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Dry eyes and laser eye surgery

Discomfort wearing contact lenses due to dry eyes is one of the most common reasons for thinking about alternatives such as laser eye surgery. Read on to see why laser may well be better for your eyes in the longer term.

What is dry eye?

You may have been told you have dry eyes by your optician. Sore, irritable eyes and the feeling that you can’t wait to take your contact lenses out towards the end of the working day are all common symptoms, particularly if your works involves a lot of screen use in an air-conditioned office. But, in most cases, this doesn’t mean that you have ‘dry eyes.’ Your symptoms are likely to be much improved away from the office and during days when you’re wearing glasses, rather than contact lenses. These sorts of symptoms may not have been present when you first started wearing contact lenses, but sometimes become an issue years later.

True dry eye syndrome is a complex disease causing damage and inflammation to the surface of the eye. Some medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may increase the likelihood of this condition developing. In other cases, certain prescription medications may trigger dry eye syndrome. One example of this is Roaccutane, a drug used to treat severe acne.

What if my prescription is higher than that?

During your initial consultation, we will comprehensively examine the surface of your eyes to ensure there is no underlying problem. If you do have dry eyes, treatment to improve the ocular surface may be required before surgery to optimise the outcome. In most cases, laser surgery can still be performed safely with great results. 

Below are a few treatments that we might recommend:

  • Artificial tear drops to keep the eyes well lubricated
  • Anti-inflammatory drops
  • Hot compressive massage with a microwaveable eye mask
  • Abstinence from your contact lenses for a while

In more severe cases, oral anti-inflammatory medications may be required.

Safety, first and foremost

If you do have true dry eye syndrome, Daniel may advise against having laser eye surgery. This is because laser treatment could make your symptoms worse. Many patients experience dryness after LASIK or LASEK, using artificial tear drops during the first few weeks and months after surgery. Symptoms are most common in the immediate period afterwards. It is very rare for symptoms to persist long-term. If laser eye surgery is contraindicated, Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) can be a great option. Same vision results, but none of the risks of making your dry eye condition worse.

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